[FoRK] ET vs. God vs. The Great Simulator vs. MWI, fight!

Jeff Bone jbone at place.org
Tue Jun 24 15:51:01 PDT 2008


Homework / food-for-thought for Dr. Ernie...

(1) Is the likelihood of the existence of extraterrestrial  
intelligence a suitable topic for rational discussion?  Why or why  
not?  What are the limits of certainty that can be obtained about this  
topic today?

(2) Is the likelihood that the universe is a simulation (cf. Bostrom)  
a suitable topic for rational discussion?  Why or why not?  What are  
the limits of certainty that can be obtained about this topic today?   
(Extra credit:  what's wrong with Bostrom's reasoning in that paper?   
How, if at all, could these weaknesses be addressed, from any rigorous  
epistemological stance?)

(3) Is the correctness of the Multiple Worlds Interpretation (MWI) of  
quantum mechanics a suitable topic for rational discussion?  Why or  
why not?  What are the limits of the certainty that can be obtained  
about this topic today?  What experiments could be devised to yield  
certainty or to deny it entirely?  Are there any obvious constructive  
proofs that modify our certainty?

(4) Is Chaitin's incompleteness rational?  Constructive?

(5) What's the difference between each of the above and a discussion  
of "God" with a man of faith?

That should keep the wheels spinning for a while... ;-)  Fyi, I don't  
have canned answers to these;  they came up while I was pondering an  
example (ETI in particular) where one can simultaneously hold a degree  
of both belief and disbelief given what is presently (without  
controversy) known and what can be synthesized from what is known.

They represent various things that I've given quite a bit of thought  
to over the years, but which it is to varying degrees difficult to  
reconcile with any conservative (in the sense of minimally- 
presumptive, maximally-exclusive) epistemological framework one might  
claim or wish to employ.

jb



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